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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Observations - 5th Edition

Welcome to another addition of Dano's Observations, where Dano's overly analytical mind picks up on the way things are done/not done here.  Funny (some), quirky (some), whacky (some) things that seem to stand out from what I'm used to back home.  If you really want to get a FULL dose of my observations, go to my archive postings and read the other 4 before this.

I wonder how much flack feedback I'm gonna get from some of these??  Maybe my reader who has filed me under 'Ugly American' and thinks I'm bashing Ecuadorians has stopped reading my blog (sniff, sniff).   Here we go (rubbing hands)...
  • Guys don't wear baggy pants slung down below their butt here.  Soooo refreshing.  Though you do see a lot of buttcrack.
  • For some reason, a lot of car owners have their lights oddly wired.  Example:  back up lights wired as taillights.
  • Drives me BONKERS when those behind you honk their horn immediately upon the light turning green.   As if they are doing me a favor to let me know I can go now.  My favorite  is when they're 7 cars back!!!!  WHAT?  They're going to arrive at their precious destination 3 seconds earlier because they blasted their horns?
  • Police drive around with their overhead lights spinning and no siren.   There's no emergency.  Everyone ignores them.  I can only assume they are letting the neighborhood (and crooks) know they are there.   Hmmm....an AWS (Advanced Warning System)...stop whatever you're doing because here we come, then go back to what you're doing after we pass by.
  • It seems every gas station has 4-6 attendants by the pumps.   They'll happily help you with directions.  They pump your gas and 99% of the time, when the nozzle clicks off, they will fill to the next round dollar amount versus topping off no matter what the dollar/cent amount is.  Less change to make.
  • Gas stations provide free air/water.
  • Nescafe coffee is alive and well here in EC.  Order coffee from something less than a full scale restaurant and you're likely to get a cup of hot water and Nescafe and a spoon.  
  • HOWEVER, Nescafe produces countertop machines that make pretty good mochacinos at the push of a button!!  My neighborhood tienda has one.....buck twenty five.
  • There are a lot of city improvements being seen around Cuenca these days:
    • sidewalk reconstruction (brick by brick)
    • all traffic signals are being replaced
    • later this year, the first line of light rail will commence construction
    • city parks and plazas surrounding churches are being re-landscaped, re-bricked, amongst other improvements
    • a ghastly, traffic-choked, roundabout is being fixed by building a tunnel and bridge solution.
  • There is no MLS database for real estate here (commonly written as real state).   Buyers/Sellers/Agents have to rely on word of mouth, rudimentary signs (with nothing but a phone number) posted in windows, or the small inventory listed on a handful of individual company websites.   What few websites do exist, generally, lack in functionality and they sorely miss marketing opportunities.  Examples:
    • Rarely can you filter your search criteria by elements such as # of bedrooms, Sqft size, age, neighborhood, price range, etc.
    • Ditto with sorting your results in the order you want
    • Agents don't keep their lists current.  Some still show houses for sale that sold a year ago!
    • Photos.  Ugh.  why Why WHY post a photo of a bed?  I'm not buying the bed!!  The photographers could really use (yeah, my 'Ugly American' showing through) a lesson in taking photos that appeal to the viewer and give the viewer INFORMATION.   This is a thorn in my side with many agents back in the States, too.
      • Where's the photo of the HOUSE??  You know...that thing I'm looking to BUY???   You don't show the house (or apt building)...you're hiding something.  PASS!!!
      • The PRIMARY photo you show representing a listing is a BED in a square room?   Or, a stairwell?   Or, the front lawn?  C'MON!!
      • Oooh...this listing has lots of photos....the living room, a closet, a hall, the shack out back, the driveway.   Ummmm....where's the KITCHEN?   BATHROOMS???  HELLO???
      • My favorite....including a photo of a toilet in the listing.  A TOILET!!!   Really?  Buyers need to see what the toilet looks like more than the face of the house?
    • Why oh why do owners not bother to clean up the house before photos are taken?  Dirty laundry piled high, toys strewn about, unmade beds, cluttered kitchen counters with dirty dishes in the sink, toilet seat left up.  Oi Vey.  
  • Weather reports.  I remember when I lived in San Diego.  I thought the weather reporter had such an easy job.  I could almost lip-synch along with him because it was nearly the same thing every day.  Low fog in the morning, burning off by late morning, sunshine the rest of the day.  Here, it seems impossible to predict the weather.  There's no such thing as looking out your window first thing in the morning and say 'it looks like it's going to be _____ today'.  That's because the weather can change in an hour and several times in one day.  So, it's probably a safe bet for the weather reporter to predict 'rain, and clouds, and sun today...rinse, repeat'
  • There doesn't seem to be any restrictions on what or how you tow something.   I've seen many a car being towed by a rope, or a truck hauling lonnnnng rebar dangling off the end and bobbing up and down, bamboo dragged behind a motorcycle, or miscellaneous what-not held down by a human being in the back.
  • Recently, the Ecuador unemployment rate was published....4.9%.  Eat THAT USA!!!
  • Voicemail?  Bwwwwaaahhaaahhaaaa!!!   No one leaves messages, much less retrieves them.
  • Cigarette smoking is not all that common here.
  • I have yet to see vending machines that dispense pop (soda) or candies.  I'm sure they must be out there SOMEWHERE.   Instead, there are a gazillion little tiendas (stores) or snack stands that provide this 'need'.  But, we do have the parking meter type of candy dispensers (with the goods in a glass ball).
  • Likewise, we don't have lottery ticket machines.   You either buy them from stands on the streets, manned kiosks at the mall, or hawkers walking the streets yelling out they have tickets for sale (or, at least I think that's what they're saying).
  • As I've travelled around the country, I'm amazed at the next-to-non-existent use of machinery to maintain elements of the roads, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, etc.   Instead, for example, it's people using hoes, picks, machetes, and shovels...tediously hacking away at weeds overgrowing into the drainage gutters.
  • GAWD this one gets my goat!!!   Smoke detectors chirping.  Doesn't it drive you CUHRAZY when one starts chirping in your house and you don't have a battery replacement, so it goes on and on for hours until you can get to the store to buy one and replace it?   Not here.   Don't care.   The post office has had one chirping right outside the service windows...for MONTHS!!!!   Upstairs outside the admin offices, too.   I asked them if they knew why.  They didn't know.  I explained it's because the battery is low and, if the electricity went out and there was a fire, the alarm wouldn't work.   All they needed to do was replace the battery.   Ohhhhhh!!!!    Still chirping.   Ditto at a high-end kitchen and bath store where you can hear the chirping throughout the entire store.  Both....to this day....still chirping.
  • Passing on highways.  Double yellow line?  Big deal.   Hill?  Curve?  EHH!!!   Car/truck coming at ya?  Temporarily turn the 2-lane into a 3-lane.
  • I have never seen an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant.
  • On the same note, I think there are 3 drive-thru fast (junk) food places in all of EC.
  • People lovvvvve to ignore the no parking signs downtown.  They just pull over and put their flashers on, get out and go do their thing.  Meanwhile, a full driving lane (of only 2 available) has been blocked.  Once one person does it, others flock and do the same thing to the point it looks like parking IS allowed because there's so many!
  • Cuenca is rolling out a new 911 system....something that pretty much didn't exist before.  Bomberos (fire dept) services have been amping up their training and equipment.   I've seen some pretty sophisticated ambulances, but for the one I see, I see 6 that look like a Volkswagen van, or something that reminds me of the old milk trucks from yesteryear.  Glad they are developing this system, but now it is clear I am right on an ambulance arterial.  Add sirens to the daily digest of noises I get to 'enjoy' such as incessant dog barking, out of control car alarms, horn honking, and idiots who don't know how to engage/disengage their house alarms without them screaming throughout the neighborhood 6, 7, 13 times a day!!!
  • I've seen more Datsuns, Ford Mavericks, and Ford Pintos in the time I've been here than in the past 10 years in the states!!   Why is that?  Also, 1970's Ford pickups are hugely popular here.
  • There are two large companies that provide major grocery store services and each of them have three locations in Cuenca.  That means, 6 large grocery stores the size of Safeway, let's say, serving a city of 600K....or so.  Thank goodness, NONE of them read your receipt as you leave the checkout line and say 'Thank you....uhhhh....(look, look, search, scan) Senor Lucille Ball'.   They simply (and genuinely) say 'Grasssy Ass'.
  • We don't have a 'do not call' list.  In fact, I have never gotten 1 solicitation phone call in the year and a half I've lived here.  Now...Jehovah Witness's and Mormons at my front door...YOU BET!!

Enjoy these photos of actual Cuenca real estate listings.  See what I mean?

14 photos of this property.  THIS is the primary photo...the first thing a viewer sees when the listing comes up. Of the 14 photos, 3 are of toilets.   Not ONE photo of what the house looks like!  Oh, btw, the toilet paper dispenser is crooked.
Yet another 'calling card' picture.  The first photo displayed on a condo listing.
Yes, it's a nice set of stairs, but out of 16 photos, THIS is the lead-in photo??
Yep....PRIMARY 'hook-em' photo.   OMG...such a stunning parking area, I MUST SEE MORE!!!

THIS is the primary photo...the first thing a viewer sees when the listing comes up.  Of the 16 photos, not ONE photo of what the house looks like!

When I saw this primary photo, it's all I needed to see.  I had my checkbook out soooooo fast!!!

What is the obsession with TOILETS in real estate listings?????

REALLY?   They couldn't have emptied the trash and PUT THE TOILET SEAT DOWN before taking the photo???
What...is the selling point here the fact that there is a commercial-sized TP dispenser?



  1. Thanks for an interesting blog. We will be coming to Cuenca in September...

  2. LOL - too funny! In defense of the photos for Real Estate listing, I've been house hunting in upscale neighborhoods in the SF Bay Area where I found....Dirty laundry piled high, toys strewn about, unmade beds, cluttered kitchen counters with dirty dishes in the sink, toilet seat left up AND the toilet wasn't flushed. EWWWWW. BTW the photos on the website made the place look so pristine. Coming to Cuenca soon. Might be in need of a comedic driver. Know any???? ;-)

  3. Oh Dano.............I'm still here! And I do believe that I made my point back then. Nuf said.

  4. Dano, you poor guy. Some sprigs of rosemary in a glass of water taken several times a day will bring you down. What you describe is life here on earth. Maybe a nice ranch in the middle of Montana would be better for you. Seriously though,I enjoy your blog and share many, many of the same annoyances.

  5. I always enjoy your posts Dano...no flack from me ever! Good Stuff! Bill

  6. Funny post, Dano. The very last photo and your comments had me in stitches. Sure glad I'm not a woman, or I would have peed my pants from laughing so hard. Jim Mola

  7. Another funny one.....and I don't know why anyone would get on your case, you are just "stating the facts" not being bitchy or mean. Love it! Tami

  8. While reading this I can imagine you online late at night looking at photos on Real Estate websites and going bizerk. Knowing how much the above stuff bothers you might tempt someone to post more pictures of beds and toilets for future properties :)


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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